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Frank PECHACEK Jr.

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Frank PECHACEK Jr. Obituary
PECHACEK, Jr., Frank Frank Fred Pechacek, Jr., age 92, of Flatonia, Texas, died peacefully in his sleep early on the morning of June 17, 2014 at the Atria Assisted Living Community in Tucker, Georgia. It was a miracle that he survived his very premature home birth on April 5,1922. When the local doctor arrived, he said the baby was "hopeless" because he was so premature and small (estimated to be about 5 inches long and weighed less than 2 pounds). But his mother would not give up and nursed him to full health with a homemade incubator using a shoe box with cornmeal heated on the wood stove and feeding him her milk with an eye-dropper. Growing up on a farm just west of Flatonia, Texas, his parents, Emma Hajek and Frank Fred Pechacek, Sr., gave him and his five older brothers a rich Czech heritage and a motivation to excel. He was frail as a child but became a skilled hunter and high school athlete, graduating from Flatonia High School in 1939. After graduating from Schreiner Military Institute in May 1942, he married Mary Elizabeth Wood on September 12, 1942 and enlisted in the US Army Air Corp on September 26, 1942. Waiting for his call to active duty, he attended the University of Texas at Austin studying mechanical engineering. After training as a Navigator, he was assigned to a B-24 crew and sent to England in January 1945. Due to his outstanding navigational performance on his first mission, he was sent to advanced training in radar navigational bombing. Again his performance was so outstanding that he was assigned as lead radar navigator on the highest priority missions through the end of combat in Europe. Returning home as a WWII combat veteran, he sought only peace, and resumed his job as rural mail carrier that he had taken over from his father. In this position, he became widely known and loved in the community until he retired in September 1975. During these post-war years, he and his lifelong love, Elizabeth, raised four children and were active in the Sacred Heart parish and community. The U.S. Air Force brought him back into service in the active reserves flying with the 433rd Airlift Wing in San Antonio, where he was promoted to Major and became the Wing Operations Officer, before retiring in April 1966. During his period in leadership, the "Alamo Wing" won several awards and citations, including the coveted (only one award given per period worldwide) Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (for 1 July to 31 December of 1964 ). The late 1960s unfortunately also were filled with tragedy, first with the sudden death of both his parents in December 1968, and his son Frank Fred Pechacek, III, in an auto accident in February 1969. In retirement, he traveled across the country with Elizabeth in their Holiday Rambler trailer, before coming home to care for a sick family member in the early 1980s. Finding that the county Emergency Medical Services were limited, Frank and Elizabeth helped expand the county ambulance service, and were trained to help on emergency calls. Later he and Elizabeth moved to Austin to be near their daughter Betty and became actively involved with the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. In 1993, he and Elizabeth build a retirement home on Padre Island to be near their youngest son Robert, his wife Carol and granddaughter Renee. He and Elizabeth returned to Flatonia in September 2001, building what they planned was their final home. However, by fall 2002, his doctors were strongly advising that they move near one of their adult children. He and Elizabeth first moved east to Mooresville, North Carolina in 2003 to be near Robert and Carol again, then, to Atlanta in 2004 to be near their son Terry and his wife Julie and new grandson, Samuel. After his beloved Elizabeth died in 2007, his grandsons Samuel (born 2003) and Jacob (born 2010) gave him the motivation to keep living so they would have strong memories of him. He cheated death many times to live a full life as a loving husband and father who served his community and nation so well. He was preceded in death by his parents, his son, Freddie, and wife Elizabeth as well as his five older brothers, Emil, George, Ernest, Raymond, and John. His memory will be cherished by his daughter Betty Ludlum and her companion Roy Greenwood of Austin, Texas; son and daughter-in-law Terry Pechacek and Julie Fishman of Atlanta; son and daughter-in-law Robert and Carol Pechacek of Mooresville, North Carolina; his grandsons Samuel Pechacek and Jacob Pechacek of Atlanta; granddaughter Renee and her husband Charles Raven of Corpus Christi and a large number of cousins, nephews, nieces, and friends in Texas and around the country. Now he is at peace with all his loved ones, buried next to Elizabeth at the Sacred Heart Catholic cemetery in Flatonia. A memorial service in the Atlanta area will be held at 1 PM on July 26th at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 2855 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30329. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America, 292 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (212-982-9699, http://iava.org) which focuses on issues related to VA medical care, particularly related to depression, suicide prevention, and post- traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) issues.

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Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 19, 2014
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